The Story of Us. Book 1: Dark Paw
Chapter 1: From the Journal of James Hawkspear, a human explorer in the time before werewolves.
"Blackspore is a nice enough place, the food is... tolerable... the enviornment is not up to par, but what blackspore lacks in enviornment it makes up for in it's people. The head leader of the encampment there, David, is one of the nicest people I have met in all my travels. He has skin paler than the dead, and very cold eyes, which disguise his warm hospitality. He has given me room and board for the majority of my stay in his very nice home he has on the edge of the bay. But I get the sneaking suspicion he wants something out of me. Earlier today I took a hike into the graveyard area near the abandoned mine. Although, the ghastly shrieks told me it wasn't as empty as I had heard. But what really suprised me on this hike was the wolves. I only saw one, but I know wolves never tread alone. I was rounding the corner past the mine and there he sat. He was a proud fellow, probably a high rank in his pack, a pitch black wolf. I would have missed him if not for the white scarlike patch of fur across his right eye. He stared at me with content, as if waiting for me to prove myself to him. I raised my hands, having dealt with animals of higher caliber before, submission worked best. It seemed to satisfy his concern, but he continued to follow me deeper into the graveyard, and as I left sat at the edge of the town (likely "human territory") and gave me a stern look. I felt as if he was warning me of something, something I feel he has everlasting knowledge of. Whatever the case, I am surprised to see wolves in a swamp; they usually dwell in caves or forests. They must be hiding from predators here.... but what hunts wolves?" This journal was found with the dead body of Hawkspear the same day it was written. Cause of death: severe cuts to the neck and torso, and extensive blood loss.
Chapter 2: Revelations
A bright, bright light shined through Dark Paw's eyelids, a light so bright he assumed it must be unnatural and from some sort of enemy. His instincts kicked in and within the second he was on his feet and snarling. Dark Paw swung his head from left to right, scanning for the challenger. But all he found was an uncommon ray of light penetrating through the dense forests of blackspore. The ray shone like a slanted pillar of light, as if blessing Dark Paw. The wolf cursed in his native tongue and shaggily sat on his haunches. Moon Pack obviously wanted him up, but what for? Dark Paw took a look around again, slower this time. The familiar rocks and bushes came into view, and the inexorable croaking of frogs echoed through the lonely forest. Dark Paw looked to the patch of grass beside him, but it lay empty. His mate had already taken the pack out for the morning hunt, he had overslept. Dark Paw sighed and stood. Without adrenaline, the various cuts and bruises on his body complained as he moved, and Dark Paw sighed. Last night had been rough, multiple casualties, and the loss of a dear friend. Dark Paw looked up at the pillar and hoped that his fallen comrades sat above, watching over him. Sluggishly, he made his way down the beaten trail, picked up the scent of his pack, and began to run. The forest became a blur as Dark Paw stuck to the scent of his pack, he didn't want to stop. Stopping would most likely result in the discovery of a body... another lost wolf. Occasionally he would almost trip over one, taking little notice to who the wolf was, only taking a moment's spare to pay his respects. He was the Alpha of the pack, he had to keep his cool. There was nothing he could do for the dead that littered the forest, only ensure their pack-mates stayed alive. Occasionally he would stumble upon a dead fanged human, with blood splatters all around it's body, and he would feel a sense of pride. But the fanged humans never left blood, only dried out carcasses. After what seemed like forever he came to the human trail that marked the border between hunting land and the dens. He almost didn't catch the stench of a human not far from the trail. Dark Paw planted himself in the center of the paved trail and stared intently at the bend. There was no way of telling if the human would be fanged or not by scent, he had to confront the demon. As it noisily rounded the bend, Dark Paw became amused, the loud stumbling and shuffling could be heard from miles away. When it finally noticed his presence, the human stopped in its tracks. Fear instantly leaked from the beings aura. Dark Paw decided this was no fanged human, but continued to stare at the being out of curiosity. It's fur was not that of most humans he saw around blackspore, nor did it carry any weapons. The human raised it's paws and slowly turned back from the way it came. Satisfied, Dark Paw made haste towards the scent again, and continued running. As the scent grew stronger, Dark Paw began to notice the remnants of this mornings kill. Beheaded frogs lie all along the stream banks, and cray shells lied in an orderly heap on small islands of the swamp. They had already been to work. Dark Paw stopped to examine the work of a wolf who had recently become old enough to hunt alone. The tear was very sloppy, and part of the neck remained intact to the frog. Dark Paw made a mental note to scold the young wolf; if his cut was any higher, he would have had poison all in his frog, killing himself the instant he ate. Dark Paw glanced over at a neighboring kill and was just about to analyze it when a pair of beady eyes shined through an adjacent bush. Dark Paw instantly sprung into attack mode, facing the pair of eyes and extending his claws, he knew exactly who this was. A low rustling came from the bush as his enemy prepared itself to attack. Suddenly, the eyes rushed forward, and a flash of grey moved towards Dark Paw. Anticipating the charge, Dark Paw jumped to the right of the attacker, whipping his body completely around and snatching the enemy mid leap. He then rolled with the culprit until he was able to stop himself over the attacker, ready for the kill.
Chapter 3: The Pack
Young Oak Pelt lay on her back, trapped under the hulking paws of her prey. She snarled in protest and began to gnaw on Dark Paw's leg playfully. "You were seen to early young one" Dark Paw told the pup, snatching her into his mouth, "I was able to ready myself for your attack". The pup sighed, "but you're the ALPHA, you're too good to not catch me" she wined. "You know who won't be able to expect me, the fanged humans!" Oak Pelt exclaimed. Dark Paw chuckled and ducked under some bushes that lead to a clearing where the pack lay, feasting on the morning's leftovers. Glancing around, Dark Paw did a quick head count. They had lost 5 overnight, and many lay licking injuries or sat focused, trying to twitch part of an ear that was no longer there. Dark Paw returned the pup to her mother and made his way across the clearing where his mate sat, calmly watching the pack eat. Her midnight pelt; almost identical to his own, lay flat against her body as she breathed. Dark Paw made note of the small bulge protruding from her stomach. Dark Pelt seemed to be completely calm, and made small talk with the alpha of their allies who lay on the outskirts of his packs circle. The coyote Alpha, rock claw, stood proudly next to his mate, probably bragging of some incredible feat he had made in the night. Dark Paw squinted at the smaller canine, he despised the coyote. Although his war stories were talked about constantly, no one in his pack had actually witnessed him preforming any of the stories. In fact, the alpha seemed to disappear every battle. Coward, most of them thought, but Dark Pelt always seemed to be interested, congratulating the egotistic coyote on the 5 fanged humans he had beheaded the night before, or the army of enemies he intercepted and then killed right outside blackspore, where no wolf went. That was the only reason Dark Paw had agreed to the alliance in the first place: what the coyotes lacked in fighting skill they made up for in trapping skills. They small devil-wolves were experts at guessing flank routes and commonly used paths, and their traps had come in handy more that once. Still, though, the Coyotes bothered Dark Paw. Whenever he was around them he could sense a suspicious aura about them, as if there were something they were holding back. By the time Dark Paw had reasoned himself into thinking making alliances with the coyotes was a good idea, he almost ran into his mate. She glanced at him, giving him an up-down check. "Surprised you're up this early" she said in a cool growl. "Rock Claw was telling me of the battle last night, how was it on your side?". "Worse than any before, it seems every one we behead they replace with four, I'm becoming concerned" he replied calmly. "Agreed, although I feel we're handling everything well, at least in our part" Rock Claw cut in. "if you ever needed me to send a few over-" "No." Dark Paw snapped harshly "we agreed on our sectors at the beginning of this" he said "even if we are taking most of the weight, I will not have my honor tarnished because of an increase in difficulty". Rock Claw averted his eyes. Dark Pelt shot her mate a look of scolding, and turned to Rock Claw "give us a moment, please, my mate has not eaten this morning". Rock Claw nodded and went to tend to his coyotes, and the couple made their way down the banks. "You're letting your pride get in the way of things again" she sighed as they scanned the bank for frogs."You know he is just trying to make you feel better... he told me how many we lost". Dark Paw sagged his shoulders, "any pride I once held is now gone with the souls of the fallen" he said. "Last night was my failure as a leader". He expertly snatched a passerby frog and decapitated it instantly. "I will apologize to him later. I was telling the truth, though, there are a lot more than there used to be, I'm concerned" he said. Dark Pelt stared out on the lake. "I could help..." she said lightly. "No." he said sternly, stopping what he was doing "You know you can't do that". The she-wolf hung her head. "I feel as if I am doing nothing" she began to say. "Our people are out dying and I am stuck on pup duty." Dark Paw continued to eat, "You are carrying a pup. and not just any pup." he reminder her. Dark Pelt was silenced. For a while, the couple sat and stared out at the lake. Dark Pelt felt separated from his mate, they had been away from eachother for days at a time while he led war parties, all Dark Paw wanted was to talk to his mate, without the weight of war on his shoulders. "How are you feeling" he asked, after waiting a while. Dark Pelt continued to look out into the lake. "Good, this pup is going to be durable, just as his father". she laid down, pressing her body against his. "You're doing a good job, you know that." She looked up at him. Dark Paw stared at the contents of the half eaten frog, "Moon Pack will guide us, Dark Paw, have faith in your ancestors" she said calmly. Dark Paw still stood rigidly. It was said his father was the greatest Alpha who had ever led the pack. After he died, his elders had told him, he would certainly rise to the Alpha of Moon pack and Dark Paw would be blessed with good fortune. But right now, Dark Paw almost didn't believe that his father was as great as he was told. Because whoever was Alpha of Moon pack certainly did not have the brightest opinion of him.
Chapter 4: Ambush
Dark Paw trotted lightly down the path at a reasonable pace along the border of his inner territory. "Keep up now" he growled as he heard the orderly movement of the young wolves behind him. Dark Paw suddenly sped up and dove into a clearing, whipping around as the wolves filed in and formed a semicircle, panting as they went. "Alright now, Light Claw, Oaken Paw, you first. The two wolves entered the center of the clearing and began to size eachother up. Oaken Paw, the bigger and sturdier of the two, stood with his chest out and strutting as Light Claw creeped low, the grass rubbing against her fur. The two circled twice and suddenly Oaken Paw was in the air, launching himself at the smaller wolf. Light Claw anticipated the strike, and dove forward, spinning into the air and kicking the larger wolf with stiff legs. Oaken Paw was flipped onto his back and Light Claw was upon him in an instant. Oaken Pelt struggled to roll over as Light Paw planted her paws on either side of the hulking wolf, blocking his body weight. She nipped into his body, targeting vital organs that she would have torn out if this was an enemy. "Enough" Dark Paw said and the small wolf trotted away as Oaken Paw sheepishly bowed to Dark Paw, waiting for feedback. "you are large, Oaken Paw, do you not know this?" He said subjectively. The wolf nodded. "Tell me, Oaken Paw, do bears pounce on their prey?" Oaken Paw shook his head "No sir." he said nervously. Dark Paw circled him "Use your body and weight like that of a bear, charge and keep low, you will run through your enemies like a storm through trees" he said, lowering his shoulder and shoving Oaken Pelt into the center. Oaken Pelt nodded furiously and moved back into the crowd mumbling to himself. "Alright, that was the last matchup we had for today, let us return to the dens" Dark Paw announced, and the pack began to walk in the direction of their dens. As Dark Paw walked Light Claw trotted beside him. "How was I, Dark Paw?" She asked, looking up at him. Dark Paw continued to walk stared ahead "good, you are catching on to your strengths, speed is something you were built for" he said. The young wolf jumped happily "Am I ready to serve, do you think?" she said eagerly. "You're getting there" he said, meaningfully. The wolf was silent as they walked, and Dark Paw imagined Light Claw battling, whirling around her enemies like a tornado, ripping through them. He imagined her howl as she made her first kill. and suddenly an almost identical howl rang in his ears. Dark Paw whirled around, but Light Claw was right next to him, looking perplexed. Quickly, Dark Paw pinpointed the howl: it was back by the border where Dark Paw had been training. And the howl was not that of Light Claw, but the deep familiar tone of Oaken Paw.
Chapter 5: and so it begins.
Dark Paw didn't even have time to tell Light Claw to head back to camp before three Fanged Humans burst through the brush, with Oaken Paw on their tails. One of the bigger humans turned around, using the hilt of the blade he held to try and block Oaken Paw's charge. But the wolf had learned quickly, and he barreled into the human with the force of a falling tree, and fall it did. Light Claw jumped into the massacre of the largest fanged human while Dark Paw blocked the two with his body, facing the two remaining fanged humans that stood before him. They seemed wary of their presence in enemy territory, but they kept their weapons (a hammer and a knife) trained on Dark Paw. Quickly, the hammer weilding fanged human slammed his hammer where Dark Paw was just a second before, but Dark Paw was wise, and lunged, catching the arm of the fanged human and dragging him away from his ally. The knife wielding fanged human took the opportunity and latched himself on to Oaken Paw and dug his fangs into the wolf as it howled in pain. Forcefully, Dark Paw ragdolled the human's arm, breaking it and sending the human flying into a tree trunk, and leaped on the final fanged human's back. He made quick work of gripping the human by the neck and tearing it off of Oaken Paw, sending the human to a stand. Light Claw, having finished the human on the ground, made haste to the standing fanged human and tore into his stomach, finishing him off. Dark Paw released his jaws and dropped to the forest floor as the final enemy fell to it's knees. the wolves were silent as they watched the two dead fanged humans leak blood from their injuries, the only sound being the whimpering of the remaining Fanged Human, who shook in terror as the wolves in front of him regained their senses. Oaken Paw huffed and puffed while hunching over. Two large fang holes now bore into his back, slowly leaking blood into his brown pelt. "Get him back to camp, and hurry, there may be more." Dark Paw growled, turning away from the two. Dark Paw stalked to the final fanged human, his rage bubbling. "Wait" he heard Oaken Paw exclaim weakly from behind him. Dark Paw snapped his head back to the wolf, who now stood inches behind him "It's my kill". The wolf stood weakly, but his eyes raged with fire, the excitement of the first battle. Dark Paw submitted, "Very Well, Oaken Paw, you earned it" he said. Oaken Paw nodded and approached the fanged human. He studied it for a moment, as a frog studies a bug before it devours it, and with precise movement, snapped the neck of the fanged human with his hulking jaws. The fanged human flopped against the tree, and it's head hung in an unnatural position. Oaken Paw Howled, informing the pack of his victory, then turned to Dark Paw. "The trap." he said. Dark Paw frowned, confused. "The trap," he repeated, "they knew where it was"
Chapter 6: The Rage of Dark Paw
The plants and branches seemed to snap instantly as Dark Paw crashed through the forest. On his angered trip he began to formulate exactly what he would do to Rock Claw and his band of vermin. He considered decapitation, mutilation, and even some cannibalism. All of these thoughts vanished into the mist as he entered the bush surrounding the trap. He heard voices, human voices. Instantly Dark Paw crouched down and slid into the shadows. He crawled on his belly to a hole in the brush and observed several fanged humans observing the trap. A few toyed with the expertly hidden ropes and slings as if they had received a manual to their inner workings. Dark Paw began to panic. How had these humans known of the traps? Was this the only one they knew about? Would they be able to disable the traps? As Dark Paw's anger resurfaced, the fanged humans pulled out knives and began cutting the ropes, disturbing the bush around them. Seeing the sound as a moment of opportunity, Dark Paw swiftly leaped from the bushes, slashing one fanged human with his claws and dispatching him instantly. As he let his rage control his actions he began to wonder how much time he had left. When Dark Paw's senses returned to him the fanged humans lay dead in a heap, stacked nicely with throats clear and heads lolling back. HE quickly covered his tracks for the finders of the bodies and made the journey back to camp. As he walked the brisk swamp air nipped at his fur harshly, but he trekked on with an unrelenting pace. As he neared the wolf den, several wolves came and walked beside him, asking questions and grieving. Dark Paw's face remained as still as a statue and he made a beeline straight for the hangout of the coyotes. To his surprise, Dark Paw saw only a single coyote, Rock Paw, standing nervously at the edge of their camp, every trace of the was gone. Dark Paw walked up to Rock Paw and sat directly in front of him, staring at him coldly. "What is the meeting of this" he said, nodding to the camp. Rock Paw looked down submissively, he had a very concerned look on his face. "They know now... I don't know how but they know" he stuttered. Dark Paw stamped his paw "so what, you are going to get up and leave?!" he howled, grabbing the attention of the entire pack. Rock Paw looked down, summoned what he had left of his courage and looked Dark Paw in the eye. "This is a lost cause, I am not going to risk the lives of my people here" he said calmly, "he looked around at the scowls Dark Paw's wolves had now shot his way and added "I hope you follow us, it is no longer safe here". Dark Paw's eyes filled with rage "This is our home, coward, I would rather die here than flee as a coward" he declared. Several approving howls met his remark. Rock Paw looked around as if looking at a friend for the last time before he goes to die in battle "have it your way then" he remarked and bounded into the forest never to be seen again. Although the leaving of the coyotes was a morale killer to most wolves, Dark Paw seemed pleased. He continued to operate his pack normally, filling in traps the coyotes had placed with patrols and stakeouts. It was not natural, Dark Paw reasoned, for these coyotes to be waging a war meant for wolves. They were just not cut out for it. Over time, Dark Paw began to notice the attacks of the fanged humans were in line with the coyote traps, and planned around them, actually winning a few battles with this technique. It seemed the coyotes abandoning the wolves had worked in favor of the wolves. One night, Light Claw came home bearing the heads of three fanged humans, which she said she had come across and defeated extremely close to the trail of the wolves. These heads were proudly displayed on sticks the wolves had found and stood right over the den of Light Claw. She liked to look at them and think that the wnar was in the favor of the wolves. War dragged on, and the deaths began to string together, numbing Dark Paw and his wolves from the pain of losing brothers and sisters to a seemingly never ending army.
Chapter 7: True Colors
By the time the prey noticed Dark Paw it was too late. The fanged human turned to face him and held up an arm in defense. Dark Paw obliged, sinking his fangs into the arm and tearing it with a swift downward pull. Dark Paw released the arm and tackled the fanged human, finishing him as his pack came in to defeat the others. It had seemed too easy for them. Dark Paw and a patrol were making rounds around the territory when they came across three of them, simply standing right in their trail. They were pointing at trees and landmarks like fools, completely unaware of what was going on. Dark Paw had simply positioned his pack around them so they could not mistake and closed in on the fools.... Too easy.... As the soft thuds died out as the last of the fanged humans were taken out, Dark Paw noticed something very odd in the fanged human's hand. A book. They had been pointing at this book and pointing at pieces of land for a good ten minutes before they were attacked. As the other wolves celebrated in a flurry of noise around him, Dark Paw trotted over to the book and threw it open with his muzzle. The book flipped open, showing Dark Paw an array of lines and shapes. He began to follow the lines, twisting and turning back and forth, just for fun. Soon enough he had gotten into a rhythm, steering left past the rock, clearing the small stream, ducking under an overturned log, and exposing the small hole in the surrounding brush that led to their hideout. Wait. Dark Paw stopped and looked at the diagram again. This was no mixup of lines. He scanned his eyes in panic across the page multiple times before he accepted exactly what it was. He raised his head and howled depressingly. This was a map of his territory.
8: War Party
The book flopped lazily on to the rock at Dark Pelt's feet. Dark Pelt looked puzzled, "Why do you bring me--" Dark Paw flipped the book open to the page, clearly pointing out their own territory and hideout exposed. "A scouting party, no doubt they have more" Dark Paw said solemnly, turning away and looking out along the marsh where his wolves had been hiding for generations. He stared out at the small gathering of what was left of the great empire that had once stood here, and now there was little hope left for them. "We.. we must leave.." Dark Pelt said, as if shocked that she herself was saying this, "there is nothing left for us to do". Dark Paw nodded, evacuation was cowardice, surely, but it what was best for the pack. Dark Pelt walked beside Dark Paw and sat, taking a look at the marsh. She stared into the distance and murmured"I never thought it would come to this.... I guess I just pushed it away in my head....."
Dark Paw summoned his head in command, Mist Pelt. Mist Pelt was a grey wolf, and his most brilliant tactician. The two greeted eachother respectfully, as Dark Paw had not seen her since he assigned her border patrol, and the two retreated into Dark Paw's den, where the book still laid wide open. Mist Pelt took little interest, instead focusing on the events Dark Paw described to her, maintaining a calm outlook. After explaining the situation, Mist Pelt nodded slowly, "So you are saying we must flee," she said flatly. The elder wolf nodded, accepting of his defeat. Mist Pelt took no pity on him, "It is wise," she said "you are doing the right thing for our people; I will make the necessary preparations, but you must tell them as one". Dark Paw nodded "I have prepared a gathering tonight, the news may be bad but we must stand together still". Mist Pelt stared at her leader with cold eyes, visibly struggling not to break. She looked down "I have failed you, sir" she said finally. Tears welled in her eyes and she submissively sat. Dark Paw's heart broke inside; here was his greatest officer submitting to defeat in front of her own leader, and friend. Dark Paw stood at attention in front of Mist Pelt, prompting her to do the same. "Stand firm wolf, we may be down, but we are certainly not out, this is just the beginning". Mist Paw smiled through her tears "you find happiness in the bowels of death, sir" she stifled, laughing sadly. "You have your war party, let us move it to a better location".
The Pack gathering place was at the base of a cliff, where an old tree had uprooted and fell parallel to the mountain, serving as a perfect observing point for the general wolf population to the leaders above. At one point, the tree would be stressed with the weight of the pack, now it barely bent as the 50 or so wolves sat at the center of the tree. Dark Paw stood formally, Mist Paw at his right and Dark Pelt at his left. He howled attention and the congregation grew eerily silent. "Wolves," he howled, "I come bearing bad news". The wolves mumbled, a few already having heard the rumors. Dark Paw paused, and continued, "The fanged humans have discovered our home, it is under these circumstances that we will be forced to move to a safer location". as soon as Dark Paw began speaking outrage struck the wolves. Howls of despair filled the air, spinning along with calls to war and concerned howls. Chaos began to ensue as the wolves below Dark Paw began to riot, howling excessively and arguing among themselves. Dark Paw began howl for order again, but was cut short by a glimpse of light coming from the dens far off in the distance.
Chapter 9: Chaos
Dark Paw jumped from his rocky podium and crashed through the outraged wolves, shocking everyone with his unalphaly act. Dark Paw did not care, he knew what was happening.
He dashed through the forest, with the others on his heels. As he ran the mist of blackspore began to grow thicker, until the familiar scent of smoke filled the air. They were burning the dens. Dark Paw flew into the clearing, tackling the first fanged human he saw; an unfortunate fellow holding a torch and setting fire to bushes around the small holes in the rocks. The human went down easily, and Dark Paw snapped his neck, ripping the windpipes from their homes and throwing them among the now chaotic scene. Dark Paw looked up from his kill and realized the weight of what was happening. Fire blazed everywhere, and the wolves stood horribly outnumbered, 3 to 1 by a bare eye standard. Dark Paw quickly howled to his troops to rally and fell back to the higher rocks of the dens. The wolves began to make their way back, fighting as they went. Dark Paw quickly looked over the soldiers at hand; two med wolves, 10 recruits, and 30 or so wolves, standing in a defensive circle around the gathering. The Fanged humans, most of which where blinded by the smoke, began to scream to one another and loosely organize, feeling their way slowly to their position. Dark Pelt rushed to his side, and stood attentively, staring at him. Dark Paw looked at the expectant faces around him, there was nothing left to do. "TO THE DEATH! FOR MOON PACK!" He howled, and charged into the smoke, a rally of howls and snarls following him.
As the smoke began to part for him, Dark Paw instantly regretted charging. There were simply too many. He snaked his way into the crowd of fanged humans, pouncing on the tallest he could find. As soon as he ripped his chest open, two more were upon him. Dark Paw spun in a fury of fur and claw, leaving one of his attackers dead and the other fleeing into the smoke. Dark Paw heard howls and screams in the distance, and a relatively close howl called his attention. He dashed into the smoke until he came across Light Claw and Mist Pelt locked in a battle with a brutishly large fanged human. Light Claw was on top of the beasts shoulders, tearing at his neck while it batted at her with his club, and Mist Pelt danced at its feet, making the human stumble. Dark Paw made eye contact with Mist Pelt and dove his body behind the beast while Mist Paw pushed into its thighs. The human came down like a tree, and Light Claw made sure to extend her claws before landing on the creature's face. The fanged human moaned in pain and reached for a final swipe, but it was too slow. Light Claw ducked and swiftly drove her teeth into the base of the human's skull, killing it instantly. Light Claw howled in victory, and Mist Pelt and Dark Paw joined. Dark Paw turned to face Light Claw, proud of her kill, when suddenly, a lone howl of despair rang through the forest. Dark Paw's ears perked violently, and he began to run without thinking. Mist Pelt and Light Claw quickly gained their bearings and followed in Dark Paw's wake toward the sound of the crying Dark Pelt.
Chapter 10: Sacrifice
Dark Paw crashed through the woods and found his mate laying on a rock, her arm bent unnaturally in several places and with a large gash in her shoulder. He Howled in anger and rushed to her side, calling her name. "Dark Pelt! Can you hear me! are you alright!?" He glanced at her injuries, and looked away as she coughed and said his name. "I'm fine" she moaned, "don't worry about me, I got her" she motioned her nuzzle to a mutilated female fanged human corpse, with a bloody sword in hand. Dark Paw smiled worriedly, even in the face of death, his mate was eager to make the kill. "It's going to be okay," he told her, and swiftly picked her up in his jaws, despite her protests to be left and come back for later. Dark Paw gained his balance with the wolf in his mouth just as Mist Pelt and Light Claw caught up with him. Their eyes widened as they looked at Dark Pelt's wounds. "Take her" he told Mist Pelt, moving towards her "get her to a safe place, I will cover you on your way out". Dark Paw knew one of the three wolves would have to stay back and make sure the others got to safety, and he was the eldest, it was his time. Mist Pelt shook her head, "I cannot, you go" she said. Dark Paw growled "we have no times for your pity games, I will stay behind and sacrifice myself for your well being, GO." Mist Pelt cringed, but stood like a rock. "I can't make it with her in my mouth, neither of us can, we are not as strong as you. Light Claw nodded furiously "go, it would be an honor to die defending the last great alpha" she said. Dark Paw gawked at her. This wolf had grown so much in the small time she had served. A rush of pride struck Dark Paw, and he felt honored to stand among such great wolves. He did the calculations in his head, he was right, even if Dark Paw were able to hold the fanged humans off for a night, they would easily catch up; both Mist Pelt and Light Claw were light wolves, incapable of carrying his mate to safety. He looked at the two wolves, willingly eager to die in his name. "Fine.." he submitted, "May Moon Pack bless you in this battle, fight well." He turned away from the wolves and faced the lesser parts of the marsh "I will meet you in the forests of green in one moon, bring any survivors you have with you. If you do not appear on the full moon I will assume you dead and we will link up with our brothers in the north". Mist Pelt nodded, and turned and raced into the forest. Light Claw stood and stared at Dark Paw sadly, "be careful" she whimpered. Dark Paw faced the wolf, staring her in the eyes, "you have served this pack well, Light Claw, I am honored to have trained you". Dark Paw's words hit Light Claw, and she looked up at him in admiration, "Moon Pack be with you" she exclaimed, and raced into the smoke again. Dark Paw sighed, turned tail, and began to run from a battle for the first time in his life.
Chapter 11: Flee
Dark Paw crashed through the green brush, Dark Pelt leaning on his shoulder as she hobbled alongside him. In the distance, insane cries filled the night. They had been running for an hour now, and Dark Pelt had regained her strength enough to where she could walk. The crisp, undamp leaves of the forest crumpled and cracked under their paws as they moved farther from the battle. Dark Paw continued, leading his mate through the path his forefathers had left many generations before him, but the fanged humans were gaining. The violent glow of fire grew closer as the humans stayed on track; either Mist Pelt and Light Claw had fallen quickly, or these fanged humans had been farther outside the marsh. Dark Paw prayed it was the second. Dark Paw was so occupied worrying about this that he missed a rut in the trail and Dark Pelt tripped and fell on her broken leg, howling in pain. Dark Paw leaned down to help her up when an arrow sprung from the trunk next to them. Swiftly, Dark Paw gripped on to his mate's neck and dashed in the other direction of the arrow, his pursuers high on his trail. He was in a mountain pass; leading the fanged humans outside of the marsh and into the wilds. Once he hit the more open forests of the green lands, there was no escaping the ones that hunted him. Dark Paw craned his neck, looking for any holes or caves he could throw himself in to evade the fanged humans. He was in luck, Dark Paw spotted a flat cliff 8 feet up. Quickly, he dashed up the rocks before the humans could see him, climbed on to the clearing. The fanged humans spotted him and began to shoot arrows. One began climbing the cliff. As it gripped the edge of the flat rock Dark Paw had set his mate down on, Dark Pelt reached over and tore into its face, ripping skin and bone. The human screamed and fell from its climb, crashing on the floor. Dark Paw stepped back triumphantly, He turned to check on his mate when he noticed the green-tinted arrow protruding from his side. Dark Paw began to grow weary.
The poison hit Dark Paw's system quickly, and drowsiness began to set in. As he slowly drifted away, Dark Paw rushed over and picked his mate up, running deeper into the cliffs. He stumbled and fell multiple times, but pushed through the pain, hoping it would wear off eventually. Sooner or later he began to see things. Dead wolves, spirits, and fanged humans he had killed all filled his mind with their voices, calling his name and howling in despair. Dark Paw tripped and fell, unable to get up. He lied at the edge of a pool, and saw the souls of the dead wolves flying into the pool. Sluggishly, he pushed his mate into the water. Hopefully, she would survive, he thought, and darkness overtook him as his head went under the water.
Chapter 12: Awakening
That was all Dark Paw saw.
Overwhelmingly bright white, it rushed from every direction, seeping into every corner of his being, and suddenly, it was gone again, leaving nothing but darkness.
Dark Paw woke on the edge of the pool he had found. As he lay, exhausted, he watched the shallow water ripple in tune with his breathing. He had no idea where his mate was, and he did not think he could move at all. Slowly, as his senses (or what was left of them) came back, he began to notice his smell was diminished. All he could sense was wet rock and blood. The Poison must have gotten me, he thought, and tested his movement. He attempted to crawl forward, using his right paw, which was tucked unnaturally under his body, forward. But when he moved it into his field of vision, there was no paw to be seen.
A human hand plopped down in front of Dark Paw, in front of his human eyes, connected to his human body, covered in human furs.
Dark Paw lost it. He shot up and backed against the cliff, moving like a human, he sat upright against a flat rock, gaping at his hands and now visible feet. They were bare of hair, except for a small hairs on his arms and legs. He tested his movement, controlling each individual finger like it was natural. He stretched them, moved them, bent them, picked up a few rocks with them, and even was able to throw things. Dark Paw was amazed and disgusted at the same time, what had done this to him? Dark Paw pushed the new body aside and surveyed his surroundings. It was midmorning, and the sunlight shined brightly on to the pool, with several glistening rays making it sparkle like magic. But there was more than the sun at work in the pool. Even as a man, Dark Paw could sense Moon Pack's presence, he dipped his hand into the pool and energy seeped into him like a river, flowing up his arm, across his chest, and down to his toes. Dark Paw was amazed. He glanced toward the edge of the cliff. There, laying among the patches of moss and small rocks, lay a human female. Dark Pelt had been changed as well. He wished to wake her, to try and speak to her, but he had no idea how to walk. Knowing no other way to walk, Dark Paw pictured his wolf self in his head, and began walking awkwardly to her. The walking got more natural, and Dark Paw glanced down to check on his hands and saw paws yet again. He swirled around his body on all fours, noticing his typical physique. He was a wolf again. perplexed, Dark Paw stood on two paws and tried to look down at his reflection from the pool to make sure his body was back to normal, but the second he put his paws up to the rock they turned to hands, and he stood like a human. Dark Paw's eyes widened as he turned around in his now human form to stare into the pool. He had deep black fur on his head, just as his wolf fur, and sand colored skin. He played with the fur on his head, wondering how it had gotten like that in just one part of his body. Dark Paw rotated, observing every inch of his new body, while switching back and forth by simply placing his hands on the ground and thinking about his wolf form. He found he could transform easily between the two. This was amazing, Moon Pack had gifted him! He leaned in closely to the pool to stare at his hairless face, when another transformation came on to Dark Paw.
Instantly Dark Paw could tell this was a wolf form, as his smell heightened, his claws grew, and his teeth and snout protruded from his face. But what Dark Paw could not understand, was the fact that he was standing.
On two legs, with fur all over his body, and with a humanlike body.
It was as if moon pack had mixed a human and a wolf, and Dark Paw was that wolf. He backed up from the pool, looking down at his handlike paws, with five fingers equipped with razor sharp claws. His fur was black like midnight, and the pool showed him his eyes were yellow like twilight. He practiced twitching his ears, moving his fingers and even walking to an extent for what seemed like forever. Then, his mate began to stir.
Chapter 13: Discovery
Dark Paw watch his stages of amazement again, except in Dark Pelt
the first thing she noticed when she woke up was her hair. It was long like most female humans, and she began to play with it, slowly noticing her hands and feet. She looked up at Dark Paw, now in human form, and for the first time, he spoke to her. "Good Morning" he said in human tongue, although he had no idea how he had said it, but it had felt natural. She had radiant black hair just like his, and deep brown, purple hued eyes, which stared at him in amazement. "Moon Pack has blessed us" he said, walking towards her and then quickly (to his surprise) transforming back into his original form. Dark Pelt sat with her hands on her head for a good half an hour, and then began to ask questions. "Why us?! What happened? Can we be cured? Can we go back? Why would they do-" Dark Paw hushed her, mostly because he had been asking himself the same questions for the day and could not for the life of him come up with an answer. "We can ask those questions later, for now, let us use what moon pack has given us" he stood in human form, wearing a torn shirt and some baggy pants. "This" he said, gesturing to his clothes" is our disguise.
Chapter 14: back to the bog
Walking into blackspore again was a lot easier when everyone you saw did not want to immediately kill you. Dark Paw strolled down the path he was once chased down as a wolf, only wearing clothes and carrying a rucksack they had "borrowed" from one of the fanged humans they had killed the night before. The path felt comfortable and easy to walk on in his new feet, and they made a decent pace, uninterrupted until they entered the swamp. Although Dark Paw knew several ways into the swamp, he never dared stray close to the human entrance, which almost always housed humans. Fanged or not, they usually carried sticks and blades. But now, as a human, Dark Paw confidently led his mate up the path to the small human outpost on the edge of the marsh. As usual, three humans sat around a small fire, eating and conversing. Dark Paw began to recognize language (somehow they could speak human) and noticed they were chatting about something called "the fur trade" Dark Paw approached the people confidently "Hello!" he called, waving his hand involuntarily. "Aye, here comes a few weaklings" said the burliest looking one, picking a bone from his teeth. The man wore a button down shirt with loose pants and hiking boots, a broad-rimmed hat rested on his head, which was lined with animal teeth. "Come to try your hand at Artifact diggine, eh?" he said as they approached. Dark Paw, having no idea what an artifact was, or why anyone would dig for one, which would obviously be useless if buried, took a shot in the dark. "Of course" he said, "we are looking for.... err.. artifacts". The man grunted, apparently satisfied "Best of luck to ye" he said indifferently, "just watch out for those vampire folk". If Dark Paw's ears could have perked, they would have. "Vampires?" he said, a little too curiously. Dark Pelt squeezed his hand in warning. The other travelers avoided eye contact, but hat man gave him a confused look, "You know, long bitey teeth, dead looking, suck all the blood outta ya", he put his fingers over his teeth to demonstrate. " damn bloodsuckers nabbed 'ol Mark" the man said sadly, staring down at a dog collar in his hand. Dark Paw thanked the man and continued walking, but he didn't seem to notice, staring blankly down at the collar in his hand. Apparently, fanged humans, or vampires, did not just feast on wolves.
Chapter 15: Revenge
Walking into the swamp he had just fled the previous night was completeley different with human legs before you and a fresh disguise over you. Dark Paw and Dark Pelt slowly walked through the oversized hollow leading into their territory. The path stretched ominously ahead of them, empty, as if whatever was in the shadows was quietly waiting for them. Although the two wolves had grown up here, and there was no place safer for them, they were cautious as they followed the path, unsure of exactly where they were.
Dark Paw scrunched his nose as they walked, "I can't pick up a scent at all" he remarked "these humans have terrible senses of smell". Dark Pelt chuckled, her arms naturally resting on the small bulge that peeked out from her clothes, "well, now what do we do" she asked as they rounded a bend in the path. Dark Paw squinted into the distance, ahead of them, fire crackled, and several voices could be heard. "We act natural" he said seriously, and picked up his pace, eyes fixed on the fire.
The couple strolled into the camp, where several humans sat, tending to fires, playing card games, or telling stories. Dark Paw and Dark Pelt slowly walked in, making sure not to stare too long. Dark Paw's eyes flitted from human to human, there was no telling if they were fanned. An eyepatch-wearing man rose to their arrival, walking behind them as they walked deeper and deeper into the settlement "and who might you be?" the man finally asked, halting Dark Paw and Dark Pelt in their tracks. Dark Paw turned, surprised at how formal the man sounded compared to the person he had met outside of the swamp. He stared at him blankly, wondering if vampries had different accents than typical humans (he had only met two at this point). The man stared at him.
"well?" he said impaitentley.
Dark Paw Panicked, he was smart enough to know Dark Paw was not a human name, he frantically looked around, catching the eye of a shirtless man with a tattoo of a dog on his chest, snarling. Dark Paw's eyes lit up.
"Mark!" he exclamined a little too excitedley. He quickly corrected himself
"I mean, uh.. Mark" he said a little calmer, looking his investigator in the eyes. The man seemed satisfied, then glanced at his mate and frowned "Why have you brought a woman, and of all things pregnant" he said, disgusted". Dark Paw cursed under his breath, he knew taking his mate into dangerous lands was a bad idea.
"We seek goods" Dark Pelt retorted harshly "do you want our money or not". She stared firmly at the man, fearless. For a moment Dark Paw stood, admiring his mate, her glare was truly terrifying, even to him.
The man, shut up by Dark Pelt's remark, apologized and escorted the two to the merchant's area. Apparentley the man was named Oden, after his great grandfather, and he had been working the fur, meat, and artifact trade since he was a boy. Dark Paw's mind wandered as he talked, remarking about his previous adventures in the swamp. For some strange reason, the man's voice sounded familiar, like he had heard it very recentley and it was fresh in his head.
He almsot ran into the man, and stopped himself. "Here we are, take your pick and we can have them skinned, cut, and even cooked if you'd like" he said cheerfully. Dark Paw didn't adknowledge what the man had said.
In front of him, a small wolf, with silver fur gazed up at him, her eyes like daggers. Light Claw sat in a cage, being offered to her alpha.